April 21, 2009

Paralysis more widespread than thought

Researchers say the number people in the United States living with paralysis or spinal cord injuries has been greatly underestimated.

A University of New Mexico study suggests 1.28 million people in the United States have had a spinal cord injury and more than 5.6 million live with some form of paralysis. Previous estimates put the number of spinal cord injuries at 250,000 and paralysis cases at roughly 4 million, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation said Monday.

Researcher said the leading cause of paralysis is stroke, followed by spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Edwin Trevathan, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said the report is a crucial first step to providing appropriate public health supports for this community.